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Everything posted by oakapple

  1. From a purely statistical standpoint, Kevin was the least deserving winner ever. Prior to the finale, he had just one win (episode 6), versus an astonishing five times in the bottom group of three, and only three times in the top group of three. Here are the comparable statistics for the first six winners: Harod Dieterle had just one win (in the first episode of the season), but he was in the top trio four times, vs. just two on the bottom. Ilan Hall had two prior wins (both in the first half of the season); he was in the top trio twice and the bottom trio twice. Hung Huynh also had just one win (near the end of the season), but he was in the top trio five times, vs. three on the bottom. Stephanie Izard had an impressive four wins and a further six times in the top group, vs. just three times in the bottom group. Hosea had two wins and was twice in the top trio, vs. four times on the bottom. Michael Voltaggio, arguably the most impressive, had three wins and six times in the top trio, while being in the bottom group only once. If the judging were cumulative, I have to think Ed would have won it. He had three wins throughout the season and was in the top trio three times, to only twice on the bottom. Moreover, he got better as time went on, with all of his wins coming in the final third of the season. Angelo had two wins, with another two episodes in the top trio vs. two in the bottom group. Another point worth noting: until Tiffany was eliminated, she had never been in the bottom three, and she had been in the top trio six episodes in a row (including her two wins). I don't think there has ever been a chef eliminated before the finale after such an impressive string of excellence. Other than Ed, she would have been the clearest beneficiary of cumulative judging.
  2. I believe it opens to the public on Friday. They have been remarkably cagey about the menu, which has not yet appeared on any of the usual websites. Even the article cited above, mentions that the menu they saw did not have prices. I'll certainly be going later in the fall, but I am not rushing to be there on Day One.
  3. You must lead an awfully privileged life if the food you eat daily is so much better than what Kevin prepared for the finale, that you couldn't be troubled to eat at his restaurant.
  4. I didn't mind the challenge at all. Yeah, the proteins were chosen for them, but they were all mainstream items that any chef at that level ought to be able to cook with. Aside from that, they had carte blanche, and there were no further twists or gimmicks in the challenge. He admitted on his blog that the level of the cooking throughout the season was below normal. That doesn't sound like denial to me. On the other hand, he said that this was one of the best finales ever. I can't prove that that's true; by the same token, I don't see how we could dispute it. Last season, I thought the cooking was generally on a pretty high level. That might have been a fluke, given that two chefs who are brothers had an awful lot to do with it. We'll have to see whether the slide this year is a trend or an anomaly.
  5. I wouldn't put Kevin in the Voltaggio brothers' league, but I would be more interested in eating his food than Hosea's.
  6. Although that may be theoretically possible, I don't see your argument that that actually happened here. For much of the season, I might have agreed with you, but the level of skill shown in the two Singapore episodes was pretty good. I certainly would not call it "very low level".
  7. I believe Spike Mendelssohn has also been spotted.
  8. That's a crucial, and often-overlooked point: the show rewards a good chef who plays the game well, not necessarily the best chef.
  9. One of the panelists, Vickie Kloeris, has been with the ISS food program for 20 years, and almost certainly can make such predictions. She was not a judge, i.e., she was not among those who decided the winner and/or loser of the challenge (Colicchio, Lakshmi, Ripert, Bourdain).
  10. oakapple

    Per Se

    I wasn't offered a tour of the kitchen until my 5th visit (my mother's 85th birthday celebration; we all enjoyed the tour very much!). I don't know when they offer, but if you ask you can get a tour on any visit.
  11. It was poorly explained. The initial statement was: it needed to be a dish suitable for freeze-drying, putting into cryovac bags, and sending up into space. I suspect that any chef who actually took that seriously, would lose. In addition, none of the judges were qualified to say how these dishes would taste under the conditions that astronauts actually eat them. So it just turned into, "Cook something that is 'out of this world'". As I mentioned upthread, the format of the show doesn't encourage risk-taking, and it never did. The smarter chefs have figured that out. With last year's odd exception, it is hard to get TRULY adventurous, impressive chefs onto this show.
  12. This week's challenge was one of the closest elimination decisions I can remember. None of the chefs made any of the obvious technical errors that lead to a clear loser. In his final recap before Padma told Tiffany to pack her knives, Tom didn't actually have anything negative to say about any of them. But it goes to show, once again, that you don't actually need to be creative AT ALL to go far in this show, as long as your food is technically correct. There wasn't an ounce of creativity in Kenny's dish, but he is going to Singapore and Tiffany is not.
  13. Plein Sud is the third restaurant where I've had his food (after Veritas and BLT Market), and it is the least impressive of the three. I wouldn't give it zero stars, as the Times did, but I think he can do better.
  14. They would still be opening a one-night restaurant. The only difference is that they'd be judged on what got them there (running a kitchen), rather than something where they have minimal or no skills (running a front-of-house).
  15. Multiple judges involved with the show have stated that if this were the case, they wouldn't participate. Producers manipulate through editing, not judging on Top Chef. Colicchio has a comment about this on his blog:
  16. It does...only the prism through which it's judged is the food on the plate. I mean, isn't that what you do in a restaurant too? You judge the chef based on the food that came out on the plate, not based on the drama (or the lack thereof) that went into producing it. For a diner, yes. And I accept that is the premise of the show. That episode was Restaurant Wars - with turnout. Some of the judges are leading chefs and understand that a chef's skills extend beyond the plate that arrives at the table. It was the ideal opportunity for Tom to take chef skills into consideration. I am not seeing how you believe it would have altered the outcome, or why it should.
  17. It does...only the prism through which it's judged is the food on the plate. I mean, isn't that what you do in a restaurant too? You judge the chef based on the food that came out on the plate, not based on the drama (or the lack thereof) that went into producing it.
  18. I don't get that. Unless the're pulling off a perfect recreation (pretty tough given the challenge constraints) they'll get called for lack of creativity every time. Colicchio's blog:. . . . I saw that on Colicchio's blog before posting, and that's very well and good. But if you look at their de facto judging process, the winner of practically every challenge is the chef who cooked the most enjoyable dish, regardless of originality. Conversely, the loser is the one who cooked the least enjoyable dish. If it's a tie, the creative dish will win, but that seldom happens, except perhaps near the end of the season. An uncreative dish practically never gets a chef sent home, unless there is something wrong with it beyond merely being unoriginal. Usually, chefs are sent home for technical mistakes (over/under-cooking, over/under-seasoning, etc.), having nothing to do with creativity. Chefs are sometimes called to task for doing something too easy; but hardly ever for being uncreative -- again, assuming the dish is done well. In contrast, chefs who try something truly new are losers far more often than winners, simply because the experiment fails and there is no opportunity for a second try.
  19. I think creativity is overrated. If all you do is prepare classics well, you'll go a very long way in this competition and could conceivably win it. Even in the broader restaurant world, probably 98 percent of dishes you find are not creative at all, or are only very slight riffs on familiar things. And restaurant chefs have the luxury of experimenting for days, weeks, or even months before putting something new on the menu. Wylie Dufresne, next week's guest judge, has been known to spend a year or more experimenting with a new item before serving it to the public. On Top Chef, where your first attempt is your only attempt, successful creativity is, at best, a crapshoot. I agree with Chris Hennes that the Voltaggio brothers were an aberration, and what we're seeing this year is the more normal level of talent that Top Chef can attract.
  20. I'll be particularly interested to read Colicchio's explanation on that one. It certainly didn't appear that Kenny's errors were as significant as Amanda's. What's more, I sort of agreed with Frank Bruni's comment that if you are making only one thing, you have less of an excuse for not getting it right. On top of that, it seemed to me that her dish had a low degree of difficulty. I agree. There is no precedent for sending home a member of the winning team, so they were just making themselves look foolish. All they said is that he would alternate with Gail Simmons as a member of the panel. Unlike Gail, Eric has a restaurant to run. As it has turned out, we're getting Eric about a third of the time, instead of half the time.
  21. I think you could be a pretty good chef, without necessarily having any expertise in all of the world's cuisines, which is a pretty tall order. In terms of advance preparation, I am not sure how they could have anticipated this particular challenge.
  22. she hosted a cooking show. she's written a couple cookbooks. not sure what qualifications would be essential for the job. Yeah, those are her credentials, which means she probably has as much of a right to an opinion as plenty of other people who host food shows. Unlike Top Chef Masters, there is no actual voting at Judges' Table; the decision is made by consensus. From the brief excerpts they show on TV, as well as the longer excerpts available on the Bravo website, she very clearly DOES function as a judge. She has opinions about who should win and lose, and has as much opportunity to express them as anyone else sitting there.
  23. I just have a hard time believing there's no footage of Alex buying peas or making his puree. I guess the speculation makes a better show. Well...Ed's claim is that Alex stole his puree. If that's true, then there would be no footage of Alex making it. Bravo can't show what they don't have. What Cliff did to Marcel was pretty clear-cut: there was no conceivable interpretation, as it was manifestly against the rules prohibiting physical intimidation. Also, it happened off-hours, so the producers had plenty of time to evaluate the evidence before the competition resumed. Here, Ed could not find his puree, and he saw that Alex appeared to have it. Ed would've needed to approach the producers for the equivalent of a video replay review in a football game, where the clock stops (remember: the challenges are timed) while the producers reviewed the evidence. Except here, the review might have taken hours. And of course, Alex could claim it was an honest mistake, and there is no rule that prohibits mistakes, even those that incidentally harm another competitor. So Ed, recognizing that time was of the essence, decided to suck it up and go ahead without the puree he was sure he made.
  24. As I understand, Ed claimed he had prepped a pea puree beforehand, and Tom wasn't present during prep. In any case, I think the editing made Tom's presence appear more substantial than it really was. They spend several hours cooking, of which only a few minutes make it into the show. I don't know what evidence you would require. Checking receipts at this late date is clearly impossible. Ed is unlikely to have just invented the memory of having prepared a pea puree, and other chefs noted that Alex seemed to make up his dish at the last moment. If the pea puree Alex used wasn't Ed's, then where did Ed's go? Incidentally, Eric Ripert posted on twitter to the effect that he understood Alex to have stolen Ed's puree. I agree, it came across as unusually and unnecessarily harsh. The only explanation I can think of is that it went on much longer than what we saw.
  25. I agree with you. The Eleven Madison Park analogy might be the better one.
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